Gaga V. Bey: A Strategy Comparison

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This post was anonymously written as part of Blog Secret Santa. There’s a list of all Secret Santa posts, including one written by Alaina Wiens, on Santa’s list of 2013 gift posts.

Hi Alaina! When I signed up, I didn’t know this Secret Santa activity was geared toward content strategists, now I’m feeling out of my league. So… Content strategy. What does that mean to me? Is there a way I can use my perspective as a musician and consumer to write something useful for my gift match?

While I listen to a wide range of music, I take an interest in pop culture because it shapes our youth, namely teens, who I spend my days teaching. Two of the current (and in my opinion, most talented) Divas have dropped new albums in the last two months with outcomes worth discussing. Each album had a very different strategy from vision to promotion to execution.

Lady Gaga’s Art Pop was released November 6. Its first single, “Applause” was released this summer to excite fans for her self-proclaimed work of Art. The concept of “what Gaga does is ART” was beaten over our heads as consumers before we had the chance to ponder or analyze anything. Upon the album’s release, we are greeted with the grotesque memory of R. Kelly’s indiscretions from the early part of the century, accompanied with a message of “Do What U Want”. My initial question is: what are we teaching young girls here? Isn’t Lady Gaga supposed to be a symbol of strength or something? The album was available simultaneously on Spotify, giving us all the chance to quickly preview and make our own conclusions. It was also released the same time as Katy Perry’s Prism and Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz, creating more competition with the teeny-bopper audience. The sales have been considered a flop.

In contrast, Beyonce dropped it big time last Friday (with this Instagram, to be precise). Her album was available only through iTunes for the first week, and includes 15 songs and 17 videos. Here’s an album preview. We’ve seen a fair amount of Beyonce this year, from the National Anthem at Obama’s second inauguration, to a sultry cover of Amy Winehouse on the Great Gatsby Soundtrack, to accompanying Jay-Z on a Vegan cleanse, so no one expected this. Concepts in this artistic video-album are wide and varied, and Beyonce’s perspective as a child performer, wife, and mother are explored. She doesn’t want her audience to experience it in terms of singles, as she thinks appreciation of the album as a unit is diminishing. For more on the album, check out this Roundtable Discussion of the new album on Rookie. Her new album is reaching 1 million in sales and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, sparking big conversations on topics of motherhood, femini.

People don’t want something crammed down their throats. If you see something over and over, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll like it the 14th time. A good surprise, intrigue, that is good strategy to me, which is why I paid the $15.99 for Beyonce and zero for Gaga.

Beyonce spent time developing her content in secret, and consumers are more interested in her product while Gaga spent her summer and fall prepping fans for her album, giving play-by-plays on Twitter. As someone who had a pretty even opinion of them before, I’m much more intrigued by the surprise drop, especially because there is so much new music there.

In short, I’m not a content strategist, but I know which strategy worked for me in the case of these two albums, and it’s one worth considering as an artist and a writer: work hard and patient and quiet, and let your product speak for itself. Merry Christmas!

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